I am now starting work on Chapter Two. This is the way each chapter is approached on this blog. Some of the research is already done, some is still missing. I will be putting these bits and pieces on as I progress. They might discuss one of the “supporting cast,” a special event, a description of a location, or anything else that will be suitable for the chapter. One story that belongs here appeared already on previous segments – the story of the great Hasmonean queen, Salome Alexandra.
Here is the outline I have completed for the Chapter Two. It is divided into two parts. The first part is a tentative outline of the chapter, a narrative of Hillel’s life. The second part is the historical background.
1. The deceptive myth of the Hasmoneans, and Hillel’s early reaction to Judean life under the last one
2. Hillel’s financial difficulties and how he copes with it
3. Hillel’s hardship as a wood cutter
4. The difficulties Hillel experiences being accepted as a scholar, due to Judean prejudice against Babylonians
5. Comparison between Mattathias and Hillel against their background and belief systems
6. Hillel meets his new teachers, Shemaya and Avtalyon, and is accepted to their joint academy
7. The nature of the pairs of the Jewish Sanhedrin’s leaders, and its tradition
8. The amazing lineage of Shemaya and Avtalyon as descendants of King Sanherib
9. How Shemaya and Avtalyon opposed Herod when he was the ruler of Galilee and the Hasmoneans were still in power
10. Shemaya’s and Avtalyon’s clash with the high priest, and its significance
11. Hillel’s years of study with Shemaya and Avtalion
Historical background to this chapter:
1. Mattathias revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes; the rededication of the Temple and the holiday of Hanukkah
2. Judah Maccabee and three of his brothers rule successively, as each is killed
3. Simon, the last Maccabee brother, rules; he is murdered
4. John Hyrcanus (Simon’s son) rules; he adopts Sadducee policies and persecutes the Pharisees
5. John Hyrcanus dies; his son Aristobulus extends the Sadducees’ power
6. Aristobulus jails his mother and his brother Alexander Jannaeus; the mother dies in prison; Aristobulus kills his other brother Antigonus, and dies childless
7. Alexander Jannaeus, a sadistic alcoholic, marries his brother’s widow Salome Alexandra, who is much older than himself, and rules; during his reign of terror he murders over 50,000 of his own citizens
8. Judea rebels against Alexander Jannaeus; he dies, and his widow rules. She restores the Pharisees to power, appoints her son Hyrcanus II as a religious administrator, and her second son, Aristobulus II, as a regional governor outside Jerusalem
9. Hyrcanus II rules, fights civil war with his brother, Aristobulus II, and loses; Salome Alexandra dies. Aristobulus II reassumes power; under his rule, the Sadducees party assumes political power in Jerusalem.